A conference committee, which will mark the next formal step in state budget talks, is nothing new. But it's a process that may be unfamiliar to many Pennsylvanians.
On Monday, the Senate is expected to cast a procedural vote that will result in the formation of a conference committee.
Steve MacNett, general counsel for the Senate Majority Caucus, says the panel will consist of three House members -- two Democrats and one Republican -- and three Senate members -- two Republicans and one Democrat.
MacNett says Governor Rendell won't be left out, even though he's not formally represented on the committee...
"One can assume that consultation with the governor and his senior aides is something that will occur at least informally throughout that process."
Also, all of the panel's proceedings are subject to the state's Sunshine Law. MacNett adds closed-door talks could still happen among panel members but not if at least two from each chamber are present...
"There is nothing that would prevent one member from talking to another member. But when you have essentially the working quorum, that is a vote sufficient to take action, that would need to be conducted in an open session."
To be reported out of conference committee, a measure must be supported by at least two representatives of each chamber. It then goes before the House and the Senate for straight "up" or "down" votes -- and cannot be amended.